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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Articles? Books? Why not Write Both?


Earlier this week I taught my Webinar on writing articles, and suggested that even book authors consider adding article-writing to their work mix. I've found that doing both helps boost your productivity and income instead of choosing to do only one alone. 
I started out as a freelancer writing for magazines and newspapers, segueing into writing books a few years into my career. Later I added ghostwriting and coauthoring to my work mix as I found that I could make more per-hour writing books with experts as opposed to authoring my own. Today, I've found that writing both articles and books makes me much more efficient and boosts my income.
            Part of the reason is that I retain as many rights as possible to my work. That means I can sell reprints to articles, which results in thousands of dollars’ worth of “free” money each year.
            But retaining rights to articles also means I can repurpose them as I see fit. So when I collaborated on a book with a client and wrote all of the fitness content, I had articles ranging from how to launch a walking program to staying motivated to exercise to using a heart rate monitor—all that I owned the rights to. As a result, I could use them for the book. Of course I still have to rework my content to fit the book, but it’s a lot easier than starting from scratch.
I’ve taken the same approach with the books I author under my own name, which makes me more efficient. When I sold Six-Figure Freelancing to Random House back in 2003, it garnered only a $15,000 advance. But I already had about 25 percent of the material for the book on my hard drive, from columns and articles I’d written for publications like The Writer. Repurposing that material meant writing the book took less time overall, boosting my hourly rate.
This double-dipping works in reverse, too. As I write a book, I often come up with ideas for articles. I may have to do some additional research and interview sources, but much of the background research is done, which saves me time. As a result, I can get paid for the book (through an advance) and for the articles it generates, which again boosts my overall hourly rate.          
There’s another reason to write articles, books, and even blog posts about the same or similar subject. Not only does it make you more efficient and boost your income, it also helps you develop a platform as a specialist in a particular area. (Yes, there’s irony at play here—while authoring a book helps create a platform, you need to already have a platform to sell your book to a traditional publisher. It’s a chicken-or-egg conundrum.)
Regardless, the most successful freelancers I know write both articles and books, creating a living out of checks of all sizes and projects that range from a few hundred words to 80,000-word manuscripts. Like me, they enjoy the challenge, satisfaction, and income that authoring both short- and long-form projects provide.
Starting out, you’re likely to be writing articles and other short pieces rather than books. That's totally normal. Just keep a book or two in the back of your mind. It may be a natural segue into another form that can produce income and increase your productivity as a freelancer


***Do you enjoy contemporary women's fiction? My latest novel, The Misery Index, is now available on Amazon, as well as on Kindle and Smashwords! If you enjoy this type of book, I hope you'll check it out.